Jim Grant's Tech Tips
'96 Ford Windstar,
Fuel Pump Problems
I hope you can help us! My parents just bought a used 96 Ford Windstar.
They started having a problem no one can help them with. Upon getting
home from the grocery store they were unloading some bags and the van
shut off all by itself. The gas gauge was low so they just figured it
had run out of gas. However, this week they were traveling and twice the
van just stopped running. After it sits 1/2 hour or so they can start
it up again. In calling the dealer who sold them this car my dad found
out that the van has had two fuel pumps installed in the last 2 months.
Can you offer any suggestions?
If fuel pump failures are a reoccurring problem then more has to be done
than just replacing the fuel pump. The cause/reason for the failure has
to be found. That is easily said the next thing is nailing down the cause.
In general theory it is said that there are two things that can cause
a fuel pump to fail; heat and dirt. Contamination in the gas tank can
rip the guts out of a new fuel pump in no time at all. Whenever a fuel
pump is replaced the fuel system should be inspected for dirt. If found,
the dirt must be removed or the next fuel pump will live a short life.
The other known killer of a fuel pump is heat. If the pump is working
too hard it will overheat and shorten the fuel pumps life. An over
worked fuel pump can be caused by a restricted fuel filter or a problem
with the pressure regulator of the fuel system or a restriction in the
return line back to the gas tank. Either problem causes a fuel pump to
overwork resulting in early failure. Now that we have general theory out
of the way, theres a problem we see from time to time that is maddening
to diagnose and that is a relay or control problem. The fuel pump power
on the Windstar is controlled by a component called a Constant Control
Relay Module (CCRM). The problem with this unit? The case that seals the
relay and the thinking part of the module cracks and allows water to enter
the unit. This really goofs up the CCRM and results in loss of fuel pump
control or reduced electrical supply. This condition can be a stinker
to prove, because the vehicle only has to set awhile or have a ride on
a wrecker and the problem will no longer be present. If your fathers
van needs another fuel pump be sure the time is taken to determine why
the failure occurred. It may not be an easy find but it will be one less
headache to worry about.